Uncovering the Power of Friendship and Platonic Love Through “Tracing the Divide” at Milwaukee Film Festival 2024

The Double Chris Journey

The two chrises as they enjoy the outdoors together. (Picture by Lunar Door.)
The two chrises as they enjoy the outdoors together. (Picture by Lunar Door.)

“Tracing the Divide” is one of the selections at the 2024 Milwaukee Film Festival. The 84-minute documentary follows lifelong friends Chris Hiebert and Chris Schmidt as they leave their Wisconsin homes to embark on a journey riding through the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. Over 24 days, the pair of friends cycled from Canada to Mexico, enduring extreme weather, and mental and physical tests. 

It began as a simple invitation for the director Jack Zakrajsek by Schmidt to document the journey as a budding filmmaker. This is the first feature film directed by Jack Zakrajsek and was initially intended to be a home video for the cyclists as a story to share with future generations of their family.

For the Love of Men

Chris Hiebert and Chris Schmidt cycling together. (Picture by Lunar Door)
Chris Hiebert and Chris Schmidt cycling together. (Picture by Lunar Door)

Like most films, the version being shown on the screen was not the original story. The original version was around a two-hour-long edit by the time it landed on the desk of producer Michael Schilf, the co-founder of the production company Lunar Door. From his perspective, he saw a story that expanded far beyond cycling.

“What’s so cool is that it’s a film about platonic love between grown men,” said Schilf “What I love about the film is we get to see two best friends not only saying that they love each other but showing that they love each other.  We get to see two best friends learning from each other.”

The current film is also one of discovery, self-improvement, and accountability as the men learn more about themselves. Schilf has deemed the experience as a “midlife purpose” for the men as they see enlightenment and growth in their rawest forms.

“The only time that you are truly 100% genuine is when you’re alone and if you’re alone with a camera on you, that’s not normal you’re going to put a performance on, but if you’re alone with a camera on you for 24 days you start forgetting about the camera and you really get to be honest and very truthful. In a way, Jack, our editor Keefe, and I know these men better than their own wives do because we got to see something that wasn’t a performance.”

-Michael Schilf

For more information about the journey and preparation click here.

The documentary can be viewed at the Avalon Theater on April 22 and April 24 at the Oriental Theater. For more information about tickets please click here.

To watch Carvd N Stone’s 2024 Milwaukee Film Festival Interviews click here.

Maria Peralta-Arellano is a Milwaukee-native journalist who focuses on sharing news from her local communities. She dedicates her work to accessibility and producing bilingual coverage focused on arts, culture, and politics. She looks to explore her community through a journalistic and creative lens.

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